How Does Stress Increase The Risk Of Impotency In Men?

Stress can increase the risk of impotency in men. Here’s what our expert says. 

Navya Kharbanda
Written by: Navya KharbandaUpdated at: Nov 18, 2022 18:51 IST
How Does Stress Increase The Risk Of Impotency In Men?

Erectile dysfunction (ED), also commonly known as impotence, is the inability to achieve and maintain an erection long enough for satisfactory sexual activity. Almost 52% of men suffer from ED at some point in their lifetime. Stress can interfere with sexual function and cause ED. Adrenaline and cortisol are hormones that play a major role in the fight or flight response during stress. Adrenaline (epinephrine) produced by adrenals acts immediately so that we're ready to react to danger. 

After its peak, cortisol is released for several hours. Stress leads to decreased levels of sex steroids, reducing sexual motivation and/or desire, and impairing erectile function. According to studies, men practising stress management showed a statistically significant reduction in ED. OnlyMyHealth editorial team spoke to Dr (Mrs) RANA CHOUDHARY, Consultant Obstetrician, Gynaecologist & Fertility Specialist, Masina Hospital, Mumbai, to know how stress can increase the risk of impotency in men. 

How Does Stress Increase The Risk Of Impotency In Men?

The danger of men opting for cheaper alternatives than professional consultation for resolution. Many over the counter medicines are available for erectile dysfunction. Men go to quacks instead of taking professional help due to low cost of other therapy, embarrassment or lack of awareness of a scientific available treatment. However, taking illicit drugs harms them as they contain detrimental contaminants and inaccurate amounts of the active ingredient without the appropriate warnings. 

Also read: Work Stress increases the risk of premature death among men: Study

Common side effects include headache, dyspepsia, flushing, myalgia/back pain, visual disturbances and nasal congestion. Erectile dysfunction is often associated with other medical comorbidities that patients should be screened for before starting any therapy. Furthermore, these drugs can have potentially dangerous interactions with other medicines that are rarely warned against. The so called “all natural” products contain undeclared and high amounts of PDE-5i. There is a perception that “all natural” products are somehow safer which is not true and infact, causes more harm.

What are the risk factors that trigger impotency?


  • Psychological Erectile Dysfunction
  • Anxiety - Anxiety triggers the stress response and can raise heart rates, BP and cause rapid breathing. Anxiety alters the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for initiation and maintenance of erections. Chronic anxiety leading to ED can be compounded by a loss of sexual confidence and depression.
  • Abuse, Sexual Trauma or PTSD – These men may feel a stigma or shame about disclosing their history. 
  • Work and Financial Stress - Involuntary job loss and financial distress are significant risk factors for ED. 
  • Depression – During depression, there is a chemical imbalance of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine. Several studies have reported a link between erectile dysfunction and elevated levels of depressive symptoms. Men's depressive symptoms are different and include aggression, irritability, violent or risky behaviours. Many suffer from undiagnosed depression and are less likely to connect positively with their partners. Another problem is that the common medications for depression can cause low libido or delay in ejaculation. 
  • Relationship Issues - When resentment or frustration builds over time in a relationship, these underlying emotions can impact ED. 
  • Sexual Performance Anxiety - Once an episode of ED occurs, it may create a fear that it will happen again. This can cause performance anxiety. When this man attempts another sexual encounter, both the body and the subconscious mind will limit the man's arousal and prevent an erection, which causes a cycle of ED.